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The Prime Minister’s Spokesperson answered questions on the Home Secretary's speech, devolution, Scotland, MPs' expenses and ISIL.
Home Secretary’s speech
When asked if the Home Secretary’s visa speech was related to China, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson (PMOS) said it did touch upon this area. He said the speech would outline how we are seeking to improve the processing of visa applications from overseas visitors, including those from China. He also said that the speech would mention transit visas – which allow passengers to go through the UK to other destinations.
When asked what the Prime Minister’s (PM) views were on proposals for further devolution to the regions, the PMOS said the PM’s view is very much similar to the view expressed by the Leader of the House during Wednesday’s PMQs: that the decision next week is for the people of Scotland.
When asked whether the PM had spoken to business leaders encouraging them to speak out regarding the Scottish referendum and whether he thought businesses should do so, the PMOS said the PM had made no particular secret – and had referred to it in speeches – of his view regarding voices across the UK setting out their views and encouraging those who have these views to make them known. The PMOS said that the PM believes that it is important that the debate that is in front of the people of Scotland is as well informed as possible. The PMOS added that the PM speaks to business leaders all the time but of course it is up to those individuals to set out their own views. When asked whether it was Downing Street’s idea for a round-robin letter from business leaders to be sent round, the PMOS said if there are individuals or organisations that choose to set out their opinion in whatever form, then that is entirely their decision.
When asked for the PM’s view on MPs’ expenses reaching a new record, the PMOS said the PM wants to see the cost of politics go down. In terms of the decisions for which the PM is responsible – be it ministerial pay or the cost of administration in Whitehall, which is falling by 40% through to 2015/16 – that is what you are seeing. When asked for the PM’s view on MPs placing relatives on the payroll, the PMOS said that there is an independent process for parliamentary expenses and the rules of that process should be followed.
When asked whether the PM had spoken to Philip Hammond regarding his comments about airstrikes on ISIL, the PMOS said the PM talks to all his Cabinet colleagues on a regular basis and will continue to do so. When asked whether the PM would be asking for Bashar al-Assad’s permission before conducting any potential airstrikes in Syria, the PMOS said we are not currently at the stage of making a decision on airstrikes. In regards to the Assad regime, the PM expressed his view on this last week and explained why the UK does not believe the Assad regime to be legitimate.